Mitch Wertlieb

Local Host, Morning Edition

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as News Director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a News Director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station WBUR...as a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.

An avid Boston sports fan, Mitch has been blessed with being able to witness world championships for two of his favorite teams (and franchises he was at one time convinced would never win in his lifetime): the Boston Red Sox in 2004, 2007, and 2013, and in hockey, the Boston Bruins, who won their first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011.

Mitch has also been known to play a music bed or two during Morning Edition featuring his favorite band The Grateful Dead.  He lives in South Burlington with his wife Erin, daughter Gretchen, and their mixed lab Grendel. He (Mitch, not Grendel) has been host of Morning Edition on VPR since 2003.

 

Ways to Connect

Federal regulators say they’re confident the public is not in danger from the tons of radioactive spent fuel stored in an above-ground pool at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear power plant. The price of gasoline is about to go up. Yesterday, Governor Peter Shumlin signed the transportation budget, which contains the new tax. At the Statehouse today, lawmakers are spending much of their time on the House and Senate floor debating a slew of bills.

Vermont lawmakers are trying to wrap up their 2013 legislative session, with the hope of adjourning in early May.

Here’s a look at what’s been accomplished and what’s coming up in the next few weeks.

-Gas tax.  Both the House and Senate approved a gas tax, and so it will increase on May 1. Lawmakers favored a change to a sales tax on gas, rather than a per gallon increase. Many supported the bill because they wanted to take advantage of $56 million in federal matching funds.

It’s been five years since hemp was declared a legal crop in Vermont. But there’s a catch. The law takes effect only if the feds declassify the plant—which is related to marijuana—as a controlled substance.  Federal law still forbids growing hemp. But a new bill with wide support would legalize hemp in Vermont, despite the federal ban. A wood pellet plant in Clarendon has shut down temporarily following a fire that was set off by an explosion in a sawdust hopper. A standout high school basketball player in Enosburg has died following a two-vehicle collision.

It’s been five years since hemp was declared a legal crop in Vermont. But there’s a catch. The law takes effect only if the feds declassify the plant—which is related to marijuana—as a controlled substance.  Federal law still forbids growing hemp. But a new bill with wide support would legalize hemp in Vermont, despite the federal ban. A wood pellet plant in Clarendon has shut down temporarily following a fire that was set off by an explosion in a sawdust hopper. A standout high school basketball player in Enosburg has died following a two-vehicle collision.

Back in 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey changed the game, and many say the course of American Civil Rights as well, by bringing Jackie Robinson into a game that until then had only allowed white ballplayers on the field. 

That story was first told on film in 1950 in the The Jackie Robinson Story, with Robinson playing himself in a movie perhaps less powerful than it could have been given that the major events of the civil rights movement were still more than a decade away.

Legislative leaders may get an unexpected gift from Congress as they struggle to raise enough money to pay for state government. The expansion of the state sales tax to Internet purchases could raise $20 million. Officials from Vermont’s largest banks are speaking out against a Shumlin Administration proposal to hike the franchise tax paid by the state’s five largest banks. A committee of the Vermont Senate is expected to complete work this week on a revenue bill that would limit how much a homeowner could deduct for mortgage interest when filing state income taxes.

The U.S. Senate began work this morning on immigration reform with a focus on farm workers.  A bill under consideration by the Vermont House Government Operations Committee limits use of the electronic weapons, such as stun guns to situations that justify lethal force, or to prevent imminent harm. Work has begun on a project to allow the state’s wood-fired heating system to serve some buildings in downtown Montpelier.

Work has begun in Montpelier on a project to expand the heating system used by state government buildings to serve public and private buildings in the downtown.

It’s part of a $20 million project that will expand the wood-fired heating system. It will be run jointly by the city and the state.

William Fraser, Montpelier’s City Manager says the first part of the project involves disconnecting an old water line over 90 years old, and reconnecting the services to another line.

Lawmakers are reacting to the stun gun death of a Thetford man last year with legislation that would restrict police use of the electronic weapons. Sponsors of the bill say they are also want to improve police training, especially in dealing with people undergoing a mental health crisis. A 5-kilometer walk-run in Burlington has raised more than $10,000 for funds set up to help people injured in last Monday's bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon.

Amendments have been proposed to a bill that would change how Vermont elects its top military leader. The amendments are designed to delay at the state level the federal proposal to base F-35 fighter jets in South Burlington. The federal judge presiding over the case of a Randolph man charged in the sexual assault and murder of his 12-year-old niece in 2008 has changed his mind about combing the entire state for prospective jurors in the man's trial. Journalists can now bring cell phones and computers into federal buildings in Vermont.

A bill that would change how Vermont elects its top military leader is drawing sprawling amendments designed to delay – at the state level – the federal proposal to base F-35 fighter jets in South Burlington. Critics of the Air Force’s plan have proposed sweeping revisions to a bill that would shift how the Legislature appoints the Vermont National Guard’s Adjutant General. Vermonters who were at the Boston Marathon and others are taking action to help victims of Monday’s bomb attacks.

Vermonters are reacting to the news of the blasts at the Boston Marathon yesterday, and many are expressing sadness for those injured or killed in the attack. Others are relieved that their friends and family are safe today.

Over 100 Vermonters were running in the marathon yesterday. We caught up with one this morning. Nancy Heydinger of Vernon is also the executive director of Girls On the Run Vermont.

Heydinger says she’s feeling shakier than she did on Monday, as the magnitude of the event is settling in.

VPR/Melody Bodette

At a press conference Monday in Burlington, United States Attorney Tristram Coffin gathered with law enforcement officers along drug treatment and prevention officials to send a message to people involved in the trafficking of heroin and other hard drugs in Vermont.

“If people think that they’re going to be able to come to Vermont or be in Vermont and sell heroin, and cocaine and other hard drugs, they are wrong and there will be a stiff price to pay for that,” Coffin said.

Vermont is reacting to the news of the explosions at the Boston Marathon yesterday.  Senator Patrick Leahy says he’s hopeful that Congress can pass meaningful immigration reform legislation this session. Leahy says the proposal needs to balance stronger border security measures with a plan to offer undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Vermont environmental groups and some northeastern Vermont land owners are hailing a ruling that the state's Act 250 land use law applies to the possible reversal of flow in the Portland-to-Montreal Pipe Line.

Let's face it, aging and death are not conversation topics people really look forward to, but Jane Brody says it's crucial to talk about the inevitable before it occurs.

Brody is the Personal Health Columnist for the New York Times. She'll be in Westminster on Tuesday, to give a talk called "The Great Beyond Can Wait, but You Can't. Helping Your Loved Ones Prepare Medically, Legally and Emotionally For the End of Life." It's part of the Speaking of Aging Series presented by Westminster Cares.

What makes a farm a farm?  That's a question the state's Environmental Court will have to sort out as it considers WhistlePig whiskey, a company that wants to make whiskey from rye that it grows itself.  Act 250 officials ruled in February that the Shoreham-based company is not a farm, and is therefore subject to state oversight. But the company is appealing that decision. Farm advocates say what happens next could affect value added farming across the state. A Vermont House committee is going to take testimony from the public about the use of stun guns.

Monday, April 8th:
5:59am:  The Reveille:  "Tall Cedars", from the album "Instrumental Songs for Study and Reflection."
6:20am:  Soren Bodker Madsen:  "Local Hero", from the album "Acoustic Guitar."
6:49am:  Beastie Boys:  "Ricky's Theme", from the album "The In Sound From Way Out."
6:58am:  Jazz Mandolin Project:  "Oh Yeah", from the album "Jungle Tango."
7:20am:  DJ Logic:  "Michelle", from the album "The Anomaly."
7:58am:  Penguin Cafe Orchestra:  "Scherzo and Trio", from the album "Union Cafe."

A natural gas pipeline in Addison County is attracting attention of property owners along the proposed route. And it's not Vermont Gas's proposal to extend its pipeline south to Middlebury.

A Montpelier-based company wants to build a bio-methane gas production facility at a farm in Salisbury and then build a pipeline to send that gas to Middlebury College.

John Flowers has that story in the Addison Independent.

Journalist Matt Taibbi has delved further than most into the debris left behind the financial meltdown on Wall Street in 2008, and he's not shy about reporting what he's seen.

Taibbi says the story of that Wall Street collapse isn't over, despite reports in recent years that the money taxpayers shelled out to save the worst offender banks has been repaid.

Matt Taibbi will be appearing with Senator Bernie Sanders for two forum discussions in Burlington Friday on this and other financial topics.

A Williston teenager is on a literal life mission: He's in Washington DC lobbying members of Congress to keep funding for heart-related research conducted by the National Institutes of Health from being cut, due to federal sequestration.

For 15-year-old Tommy Watson, the trip to the Nation's Capitol is just another step on a journey that began with his efforts to make CPR training mandatory for students in Vermont before they graduate high school. 

"It was a great step to take because it's only 30 minutes and it teaches people how to save a life," Watson said.

Pages